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The sky was gray like an old man's beard as the snow started to drift down into the forest. Drahk wished his eyes were the same color as the sky's, but his eyes were darker, that of storm clouds right before lightning flashes overhead.
Scoffing at his own existence, he plopped down on a dead tree trunk that was lying across the ground, and placed his knife along his leg. It balanced there as if it had attached to his body, never to move even if he stood. His storm-cloud eyes scanned the still forest. He didn't expect to see anything, but in agitation he scratched his wrist, then rubbed his mittens together to hide the movement.
The song moved from his lips like a low, absentminded tune. He stopped for a second, clearing his throat, before starting again, louder. A mockingbird couldn't have sung better. The notes of loss and pain mixed with hope as his voice hummed in the still air.
Straight as a sapling, the snow fell from the sky, softly as to not disturb the singer as each flake touched Drahk, covering his black curly hair with nature's blessing.
Drahk closed his eyes, bowing his head and gently swayed as his song rose in pitch, then dragged out, to slowly sink back into the earth. Ice was sucked into Drahk's lungs, then breathed out like dragon's breath.
The whole forest seemed to become colder, the frost creeping along the decaying leaves and cracked dirt. Nothing moved; not the wind, not the steady sprinkle of snow, not Drahk and his song. All was still, all melted into each other like the man had been sitting on the tree trunk for years, and the forest had never seen anything but snow.
Drahk breathed another breath of steam as his throat vibrated with a low hum. His eyes snapped open halfway through the note, the thunder rolling in. The final cord of the song struck, like lightning in his voice. Drahk was on his feet, the knife having left his hand.
A shrill scream like a teakettle steaming over filled the forest. Scratching at its black-cloaked form, its sharp fingers black polished bones, the Reeth tried to tear the knife from what would have been its chest if it were human.
Black mist clung to the Reeth, as it made gnashing noises from the depths of its covered face. Drahk knew what was behind the cover though, and it made his hands scratch his wrist in fear. Reeth's were gray creatures. Grey always seemed to be the color of death. Their heads were slick like the innards of a fish with a snout of a dog, teeth as sharp as their fingers.
They lived off of death, nothing more. They wore cloaks not to hide themselves, but because that was what their bodies were, cloaks and mist adorning a skeleton. The hoods they wore weren't hoods at all, but an illusion of the mist. The only way to see the true form of the Reeth's head was to have it on top of you, so close you could smell its distinct scent of moister. Cold was the feeling of touching a Reeth, of even being around it. They were a misty day, bringing the cold as they swept through the forests.
Reeth's were as silent as the morning frost, not many could kill one. Not many could feel the change in the forest, to be still enough to hear the crackle of the leaves as they break with the cold.
With one last scream, the Reeth dissolved, leaving the snow to cover up the black frost that stained the ground where the Reeth once stood. Walking to the spot, Drahk picked up his knife, the blade covered in black ice, and the hilt cold to the touch through his mittens.
The forest went back to its stillness, welcoming Drahk as he sat back onto the tree trunk, his knife thawing on his knee, the snow kissing him. The storm clouds danced in Drahk's eyes. His song filled the forest once more, speaking for the sorrow of all the Reeths in the forest and of their death. It spoke of hope, both for the forest and its inhabitants.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, February 5th, 2018
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